33 weeks and a hormonal mess

hormonal. an 8 letter word we hear on a regular basis. we use it when we are discussing moody people, often teenagers and especially women. women on their periods. women who are ovulating. women who are pregnant. women who are postpartum. women who are breastfeeding. women who stopped breastfeeding. women who are going through menopause. pretty much, as women we tend to get stereotyped as "hormonal." this post isn't intended to debate how right or wrong that stereotype may be, it is intended to share my feelings on what i know was a hormone driven series of challenging events and emotional lows.

now, lets talk a bit more about the word "hormonal." how many of us actually know the definition of this word? do we toss it around and say it casually without really understanding its meaning? yes, we likely do. i am sure i am guilty of that, if not with this word i am sure with others. so lets break this down. 

for the purpose of staying on topic here (as hormonal has multiple meanings) i will stick to the most closely linked definition for my emotional 33rd week of pregnancy. hormonal is an adjective that can be used to indicate that someone is being affected by ones hormones especially in regards to feeling moody. webster's definition of hormonal states: "markedly influenced or affected by hormones; exhibiting behavior characteristic of increasing or fluctuating hormone levels."  

i apologize in advance, i don't mean any disrespect to webster, but that definition just doesn't cut it. we all know what people mean when they say someone is hormonal right? we grasp the reference and we acknowledge that we are discussing a person who is moody, irritable, high strung, easily teary and possibly not the most pleasant person to be around, right? okay. so maybe i am pushing the envelope by redefining it, or maybe there really isn't a word within our language (or any for that matter) that can truly explain the way i felt for those few days, but either way i think i need to make things more clear to help paint this drama and somewhat traumatic filled picture. bare with me friends. 

i had my own definition written up for this, but i asked a friend what her perception of me was during this trying week i had and her explanation was on point. my only request to her was that she be brutally honest. this was her response after talking to me over the course of that week and seeing me on the weekend she stated: "you typically live with a high level of passion, emotion and empathy. on that particular weekend however you were running on a whole new level. your demeanor could only have been described as a bipolar schizophrenic on metabolic steroids: awe inspiringly crazy and ridiculously scary." i have to applaud her because man! that is some serious truth and honesty right there from a friend who must love me a lot to be able to say such things and still be on speaking terms with me. we both laughed about her response and although there was much humor in it, there was also much truth. this paints a much clearer picture for you on how i was feeling and being perceived by others during this time. it was without a doubt the toughest week of this pregnancy. 

as you probably know from my 31 week post i had been cut back to 30 hours at work due to some awful sciatic pain. i have been feeling much better (physically at least) since i am seeing my chiropractor and massage therapist regularly. however, mentally i was pretty exhausted. trying to juggle work, motherhood, friends, family, house work, time with my husband and for myself on top of being pregnant sometimes proves to be a challenge. typically i can manage things fairly well and keep myself free from too much stress and worry. that week though, that had not been the case. that week was hard. really, really hard. poor toby was working long hours and was unable to be home much at all, and i was unable to focus on being consistent with the girls, following through with consequences and making sure i was taking care of myself as well. 

after working each day i picked up the girls from school. some days before i picked them up i would drive across town the the chiropractors office for my treatment. no matter what time of day i schedule the appointments there is always traffic on the way back to my side of town. it's not ideal, but my chiropractor is someone i've known and trusted for years so she is worth the drive and the mess of traffic. but on this particular week the traffic really bothered me. by the time i would get to the girls school, i just wanted to get home and enjoy my time with them, but getting the girls into the car and buckled was a fight everyday.

every. single. day.

sometimes one or both of them would be in tears for the entire drive home due to their buckle being too tight or being uncomfortable in their car seat. keep in mind these car seats are the same ones they have had for over a year and there is no reason why the girls believed they were torture devices for this one week. i think, it was just "one of those weeks." 

the girls and i would get home from school and immediately both of them needed something. lilly would be emptying her backpack begging me to look at every item she brought home from school, andie would need help going potty, they both would be whining about being hungry and wanting a snack, all within seconds of walking in the front door and all at the same time. this isn't anything out of the normal routine at our house, but it was causing me anxiety which wasn't normal, and i wasn't handling it like i usually do so we were all out of sorts together. the girls and i battled almost everyday about little stuff like this. i would ask that they just wait for me to get my shoes off and things put away before they started asking for snacks and attention, and they repeatedly walked in the door, started whining, arguing with each other and testing me. getting them to clean up their toys this week brought me to tears on more than one occasion. i couldn't understand why they were not listening, what i was doing wrong, and why our daughters who usually play together beautifully were suddenly picking on each other, raising their voices to one another and barely able to be in the same room together without complete meltdowns.

by friday i was a mess. a complete and total mess. physically, emotionally and mentally. but i was set on coming home, enjoying the evening with the girls and starting our weekend off right. we had plans to go to the mountain for a friends birthday and spend time with people we love, the girls were going to get some time with their cousin and aunt and uncle while toby and i went and looked at some houses, and sunday was going to be a fun family day. 

yeah....that's not how the weekend really played out. friday afternoon the trend for the week continued with fits, meltdowns and lots of tears (not just from the girls, but from me too.) asking the girls to clean up their toys became a battle again, and it turns out that 5 days of this same argument was my max, and i lost it. over and over again i lost it. i broke down in tears, raised my voice in frustration and hung my head in shame after being so hard on these amazing daughters of ours. every time i turned around the girls were playing with something they know they shouldn't be playing with, taking more toys out instead of cleaning up, and jumping on furniture like they had never heard me ask them not to. i ended up in the bathroom sitting on the floor in tears trying to hide my hysterical crying from our 4 and 5 year old girls who were just outside the door saying "mommy, i'm sorry i feel bad" and "mommy don't cry, we will clean up, we are sorry." eventually i had both of them sit on their beds for some quiet time while i cleaned up all of the messes they had made, got dinner ready for them and texted toby asking when he would be home. 

i also texted him this: "when you get home please be patient with the girls, don't get frustrated with them even if they are having trouble listening. we have had a rough few hours and i have not been handling it well. i haven't been sensitive to them and they need some extra love tonight because i don't think they got nearly enough from me today. and give me a little grace because i am sort of a hot mess right now. i am so sorry" 

toby got home shortly before bedtime that night. by the time he got home the girls had been fed, the house picked up and all three of us girls were ready for bed. toby was awesome and he spent some much needed time with the girls before putting them to bed. i hugged him and cried into his shoulder feeling completely out of control of my emotions. we decided that it wasn't best for me to try to take the girls to the mountain the next day by myself for one of my best friends birthdays, i was so bummed. toby had to work on saturday and we both knew that after the night i had i needed a break the next morning to regroup and relax. saturday started out a bit rough, but things got better throughout the day. toby had to rush off to work in the morning and the girls were really missing daddy so they were pretty upset and grumpy for a bit. i had to call break the news to my friend that we wouldn't make it and was in tears after getting off the phone with her because i so badly wanted to celebrate with her. i felt so awful. but after some breakfast and time with lilly and andie we seemed to all be feeling better. after toby got off work we dropped the girls off at my brother and sister in laws house so we could go check out some houses in vancouver. we really enjoyed a few hours dreaming about our next home and planning our future closer to our friends and family. that evening when we got home we had a slumber party with our niece and the girls, it was a pretty low key, relaxing and fun filled evening. 

sunday morning came, my brother and sister in law picked up my niece and toby had to go help his mom with some stuff, i thought i had turned a corner and got over this hormone induced anxiety i had been having, but i wasn't over it it. another friend stopped by that morning and asked how my week had been, just as soon as i opened my mouth to start talking, my eyes filled with tears, my face got flushed and i lost control of my emotions again. i cried and vented and told her how awful i felt for missing the birthday event the day before, for my house being such a mess, and most importantly for feeling like i was failing horribly at this whole motherhood thing. i couldn't stop crying and i had an obscene amount of guilt and worry weighing me down. i can't tell you how many times i cried that day, luckily i did a better job of holding it together in front of the girls and not taking my frustration out on them, but i really was a hot mess. toby got home late that afternoon and we did a pretty good job of enjoying our evening together with the girls.

monday. another repeat of friday night and sunday morning; tears. tears. tears. while i was getting ready for work, on my way to work, even at work i kept breaking down into mess of hormonal lows and overwhelming feelings of sadness, stress and guilt. i was done. i couldn't keep feeling this way. i had a call out to my midwife and was planning to discuss with toby that evening how we could get me over this anxiety ridden time i was going through. i also spent my lunch break that day thinking of the things that caused me stress the week before and planning my week out in hopes of avoiding the same things happening again this week. and i did everything on my list. 

first of all i prayed. i asked for calm, comfort and peace as i was clearly lacking all of this. i called my friend and apologized again for not making it to her birthday party i am sure she was disappointed that we weren't there but she was understanding and just hearing her voice helped calm me. i rearranged my chiropractor appointments to try to avoid higher traffic times. i planned and prepped meals for the week to make dinner and snack time easier on myself when the girls and i got home. the girls and i went through all of their toys and purged a bunch of stuff. we also packed up a number of boxes of toys that went into storage in the basement until we move to vancouver. we had a good talk about toys being privileges and respecting them and taking responsibility for them. the best thing i did for myself and my family this week though was to stay consistent and follow through with what i told the girls and let the little things go. i realized that the week previously i was getting frustrated because the girls were not listening, but the reason they weren't is because i was not being myself either. i wasn't giving them the attention i usually give them, i wasn't following through with consequences if they weren't listening, and i wasn't handling the little things and the stressful things in a way that i normally would. as soon as i put myself back in check, reminded myself that i need to be accountable as well and started thinking before reacting we got back into our grove. i also let the little things go, the dishes stacked up sometimes, the laundry was an even bigger pile than it usually was, and now that there weren't so many extra toys around it didn't bother me as much that they weren't organized perfectly at the end of each day. i also took time to breathe before speaking if i was frustrated, i sat back and put my feet up when i was tired and i snuggled the girls more than i had the week before. 

by monday night i felt like a different person than i had for the last week. a change came over me, a peace and calm if you will. i felt no anxiety, no stress, and was so happy to be back to myself again. even so, i wanted to make sure that i never felt like that again, at least not for as long as i did. so i talked things over with toby and addressed this situation with my midwife, both who assured me that this was most definitley hormone driven, and although out of the norm for me, completely normal for a pregnant woman who was likely putting too much pressure on herself to "do it all." 

it's taken me a long time to finish this 33 week update. i have hesitated a lot in publishing it. i know all too well this piece isn't my most well written one, and i have resisted the urge to edit and rewrite it entirely and with less detail, but i feel like it's important to share this part of this story.  when i text my brother months ago saying "i almost cried watching that video of the girls you posted" telling him that i had cried everyday that week for something silly, he responded with "#notmybabystillmyhormones." we joked about it and i shared this funny conversation with the daddies of this little guy, they even suggested that it would make a great title for my blog. and there it was, something i had been trying to decide on for weeks and i finally had it. it was a perfect title for the blog that would share this story. this isn't my baby, but what i am experiencing physically, emotionally and mentally is still very real. my hormones are changing day to day (sometimes minute to minute i feel), as is my body and although this is a very different pregnancy than with the girls, its still very much my pregnancy, my hormones, my experience. it's not my baby, but it's still my hormones!

i had some concerned loved ones after publishing my last post, asking me if i was okay, if i needed anything and how they could help. i appreciate that love and concern so much, it's one of the main reasons that i think toby and i have been able to embark upon this journey to helping A&B welcome a baby boy into their lives, but i want my loved ones to know that i am okay. more than okay. i am not writing about these challenges to complain, to ask for sympathy or to make anyone feel like what we are taking on is too much for us. i am writing about the challenges to be honest, to share the real story and to journal my way through one of the most amazing experiences we could ask to be a part of. 

i've had some pain, some bed rest, some hormonal lows that i don't think i have ever experienced before, but i am okay friends. i really am. i am very aware of my feelings, my stress level and the anxiety i get sometimes due to hormones changing all the time in my body. i have friends who are checking on me, family who is always there for me, a saint of a husband who should receive a medal for putting up with me, children who unconditionally love me, a midwife and surrogacy support team that stand behind me and 2 daddies to be who care about me and appreciate me. on top of all that i have this baby boy growing inside of me, already loved by his entire family, being cared for right now by ours, and getting ready to make his arrival this spring. this is what we sought out to do, and despite a few hard days, or a week here and there that tested me as a mother, a woman, and a human being, i wouldn't change a thing in this story even if i could. i take the good with the bad, the easy with the challenging and the smiles with the tears happily, knowing that at the end of all this it will be well worth it to see this child wrapped in the arms of his fathers where he was always meant to be. 







31 Weeks

holy sciatic pain! 

well that was fun. enter sarcasm, because by fun, i mean awful, down right, could barely walk at times, made me cry awful. i experienced this same pain when i was pregnant with our daughters. with lilly, it was the last 3-4 weeks of the pregnancy and with andie it was only the last week or so. i am 31 weeks. and was only 29 1/2 when this started. there was no way i could deal with that kind of pain for another 10 weeks until this little guy makes his arrival. but what could I do? 

i was determined. determined to keep working. to keep moving. to keep things the same. yeah....that didn't work out so well. i worked my 40 hours last week, dragged the girls to multiple chiropractor appointments and put them to bed early so i could take Epsom salt baths, have time to stretch and exercise, and get a massage one night in hopes of getting out of the pain i was in, but it all wiped me out. 

i was stressed and anxious and emotional. i was still in pain, although it was under control after a week of treatment. and i was overwhelmed with the thought of dealing with that pain for 10 more weeks. when i saw my midwife for my 30 week appointment and told her what was going on she just about told me i had to stop working entirely. luckily after telling her about the treatments i received and discussing other options with her she suggested cutting back to 20 hours a week and with my persistence she met me at 30 hours as long as i was staying out of too much pain. dropping down to 30 hours a week has allowed me time to see the chiropractor and massage therapist regularly without having to take my young daughters with me to appointments. my husband works late during the week and often isn't home until after 7:00 so scheduling appointments for when he is home just isn't an option. the reduced schedule was the only way we felt like i could really take care of myself the way i needed to. 

i had to contact the surrogacy agency, my HR department, my manager, and of course the daddies of this little guy and explain what was going on and what my midwife was suggesting. it's stressful to miss work, to change my routine and to think about trying to get my job done in less than 30 hours a week, but i knew that my health and the health and well being of this child were a priority. i figured out what i needed to do with HR and all the logistics that had to be worked out with the agency as well, and the fathers were more than understanding during all of this. i feel blessed to be working with an agency and parents who are so compassionate. 

and so here i am, working 30 hours a week, seeing the chiropractor regularly and getting almost weekly massages to stay comfortable. and so far it's working. i am not where i was a month ago, or feeling like i can go for long walks with the girls on sunny days like i usually do, but i am not in constant or horrible pain, and i'll take that. i know that this is part of pregnancy. maybe not for everyone, but it's part of this pregnancy for me and i knew the risks of these kinds of things when i signed up to do this. it's not the fun part of this journey, it's not the easy part, but it's worth it. even if i ended up in constant pain for 10 weeks and on full bed rest i would tell you the same thing. all of these obstacles, challenges and inconveniences are well worth it for what we are trying to achieve; the birth of a full term and healthy baby boy whose parents have been anxiously awaiting his arrival. 

this journey was never meant to be easy. i never expected it to be.

this journey was meant to be rewarding for our family, life changing for the baby's family, and humbling for all of us. 



28 weeks.

it's taken me a bit longer to get this post up as i've been working on revamping this site as well (the original one and I were not seeing eye to eye.) thanks to those of you who have been awaiting another post and your patience with me. i swear i will get better as time goes on, but i'll be honest, it's likely this site will be a work in progress, just as it's writer is. here we go!

28 weeks already. wow! what a ride it has been thus far. this last week was full of excitement. a day trip to olympia to visit with one of my best girlfriends, a couple days at home with a sick toddler allowed me to catch up on cleaning and laundry just in time to spend a weekend with friends and family. we played games, visited and focused on our girls with a fun day in seattle. we got to spend time with family we don't see often enough and then we ended the weekend visiting A&B at their home near seattle. we got to see the nursery for this baby boy i am carrying, visit his daddies in their beautiful home and spend a day visiting, laughing and talking about the much anticipated excitement to come. they also introduced us to this amazing greek yogurt that i think i could live on. delish!  ellenos has a new customer for life. 

i had the joyful (enter sarcasm here) experience this week of drinking 10 ounces of a syrupy lemon lime drink for the standard glucose tolerance test. i've done this test 3 times and for the record, lemon lime glucose drink is the worst one i've had so far. fruit punch was pretty awful, orange was tolerable and tasted like flat orange soda, but lemon lime brought back a queasy and sick-to-my-stomach feeling i haven't had for months. yuck! one of the nurses at my midwifes office told me she heard that the coke flavor is even worse, and as awful as those 10 ounces were, i am so relieved that i didn't have to drink a coke flavored one. i still think that my midwife's office should have given me two more bottles for A&B to try. they lucked out. and i was so thrilled to pass that test knowing i won't have to drink anymore of that crap until the next pregnancy. (no plans people, chill out! but i'm not ruling it out entirely yet.) 

so to sum up 28 weeks, it's been pretty great. 

i am sure everyone is anxious to hear more about the process of becoming a surrogate and our decision to begin this journey, so let's continue that conversation here. it really was a fluke thing that started this story. i had never thought about surrogacy or the idea of carrying a child for someone else until about 4 years ago. this wasn't a lifelong dream or idea i had growing up by any means. what i have always had was the desire to help those around me find happiness in every way that i possibly can. 

i've always wanted to please people, to make them happy and most importantly, i want my loved ones to feel loved and appreciated by me. i don't want them to ever think i take them for granted, even though at times i am sure i do just that. i strive to be there for my friends and family so when i stumbled upon a "surrogacy" page on a website and began reading about how surrogates can help infertile couples fulfill their dream of having a child i immediately related that to friends and family that i already knew who had a history of infertility, miscarriage and other unexplained trouble in conceiving. my first thought "i can't imagine not having my daughters, what would toby and i have done if we had experienced infertility? knowing lilly and andie now, i cannot fathom the idea of not having them in our lives." my second thought "i would do that for my friend, my brother and sister in law, someone i loved. without a doubt. i could totally do that." but i knew how crazy of an idea that would have sounded like to toby, to my friends, to a lot of people probably, so i didn't mention it at first. and the week went on. 

the week went on, but not without this almost constant idea in the back of my head. this idea of carrying a child for another family, of actually giving birth and being able to witness new parents seeing their long awaited baby for the first time. i kept "googling" surrogacy and reading stories of surrogates and intended parents journeys. it was inspirational, touching, really moving and eye opening. there was this great big world of women out there who have carried children for others. i was intrigued and i couldn't stop wondering if i would be a good candidate. 

so i eventually brought it up to toby. he pretty much laughed it off and told me there was no way i could ever do that. the idea kept popping up in my mind though; when i talked to my girlfriends, when i played with the kids, when i was driving, sleeping, hanging out with family, basically all the time. so i brought it up again to my amazing husband, but this time with more information. i explained that i couldn't stop thinking about this, how i know that if my sister in law or best friend couldn't carry a baby for some reason that i would want to help them have a child. i think by now he realized i was being serious and he listened, he asked questions, he agreed to some of the points i was bringing up. he still thought i was crazy and that it may not be something that i could do, but he was interested now as well and willing to discuss it further.

we both thought long and hard those next few weeks as we discussed this in the comfort of our home, doing research and reading more, mostly before bed. i casually mentioned the idea to a few friends during this time who quickly had reactions similar to the one i got from toby the first time i mentioned it to him. they thought i was crazy. and to this day, i think some of them still do. that's ok though. this is our journey with A&B, no one has to understand, at least not in the way we do, i don't expect that from anyone. 

a couple months after first reading about surrogacy on that website toby and i felt that we both were in a place where we wanted to learn more. i found a local agency in portland that seemed to have a good reputation and a clean, organized and well informed website. they even had a simple intake form i could fill out right on their website to see if i met the basic criteria. when i say basic, i mean very basic. becoming a surrogate is a very extensive process, and even though i thought i met all the initial requirements, i had no idea what i was in for. social worker home visits, psychological evaluations, medical screening, and much more would be coming into play at some point. but for the time being, there was this simple intake form. i filled it out, hit "submit" and the week went on.